Getting the mail is always a great delight when there’s a delivery of a new book from Kobold Press. This publisher consistently puts out awesome content I use in my 5E D&D games, whether it’s their Deep Magic series, my beloved Book of Lairs, the twin titans Tome of Beasts and Creature Codex, or the monthly Warlock Patreon booklet. So I fully expected Midgard Sagas to surpass my expectations, and I am most certainly not disappointed. This book of six 5th Edition adventures were originally designed for convention play. This means the aim if fast-paced action. But each of the 5E adventures is fully fleshed for a complete, satisfying experience. Let’s get into it.
Midgard Sagas got your 5E adventures covered
The 5E adventures inside Midgard Sagas from Kobold Press range from 3rd to 8th level. This is my favorite tier of play, so right off the bat I know these are going to get used at the gaming table. I am an advocate for starting new campaigns with 1st-level characters, but it doesn’t take very long to hit this sweet spot where everyone has their subclass and a lucky hit from a gray ooze has less of a chance of one-shotting a character via massive damage.
Because each of the 5E adventures in the book were originally designed for convention play, they’ll run about 4-6 hours. This is perfect for most groups, long enough to last a few sessions if your group runs shorter sessions or tends to explore the space a bit more. They also have convenient break points baked into the quests, providing timely opportunities for a Game Master to break up the adventures into multiple sessions.
The back of the Midgard Sagas book indicates the adventures are packed with fast action — and this is certainly true — but after reading through them I feel like it also is worth noting there’s really awesome opportunities for exploration, worldbuilding, social encounters, investigations and more. What Kobold Press does really well in the 5E adventures they publish is including interesting mechanical elements to enhance the experience.
Take Murder on the Crossroads for example. The first adventure in the book knocks it out of the park, starting off with a murder mystery for 3rd-level characters. It’s got a great hook, easy to drop on any sort of party, and does a fantastic job of guiding a GM through what can be a tricky sort of quest structure. Characters are made to feel like a critical component of the quest from the get go, their investigations having a major impact on how the adventure progresses. And the tools given to the GM within the adventure help make this process really smooth and easy to run. I really like this adventure a lot.
Murder on the Crossroads even includes a sidebar on running murder mysteries in general. This, coupled with the intuitive way the adventure is constructed, pays off in dividends for any GM. It’s more than just a single adventure — it’s a resource to learn from and take lessons to improve your future games. There’s a bunch of sidebars contained throughout the book with tips on pacing, running particular kinds of adventures, using waves of enemies and more.
As a bookend to Murder on the Crossroads, Blood of a Fallen Star immediately caught my attention for several reasons. First off, it is co-written by Dan Dillon. Dan is one of my favorite content creators hands down, so I knew going in there would be plenty for me to like here. Any time my D&D game can include a menace from the stars, I’m all-in. Blood of a Fallen Star features mi-go (alien insectoid plantlike creatures), their weird alien technology and creepy spores, and elements of the Void. ‘Nuff said.
When the mi-go appear in the Tome of Beasts, the entry includes flavor text about their alien technology, and one of their traits is Disquieting Technology, which suggests using existing magic items for representation. But in Blood of a Fallen Star, these concepts are expanded with a great sidebar on one piece of technology in particular. In addition, Appendix 2 in Midgard Sagas includes a really cool piece of the mi-go alien technology to really give characters a headache.
Within the course of the adventure, which involves a group of dwarves afflicted by mi-go experimentation, there’s some terrific challenges for characters to engage with during a dwarven celebration as well. It’s these extras throughout all the adventures in Midgard Sagas giving each quest unique aspects to make for memorable gaming experiences.
All of the 5E adventures in Midgard Sagas come with maps and multiple tables and charts — all things that I find super useful when running adventures. I love taking published adventures and making them my own, whether it’s through swapping NPCs for one in my own world, tweaking the hooks to fit the party or fitting the dungeons or other locations to my setting. So having all this variable content helps with that a lot.
One thing Kobold Press has started doing in their adventures is including their material from their other sources in appendices. For example, Midgard Sagas includes several creatures from other books (like the mi-go from Tome of Beasts) in Appendix 1 alongside the other new creatures created for these particular adventures. This is a huge value add for a GM. I mean, so many people consider Tome of Beasts a must-have to begin with, but still, it’s nice to have content from there included here for easy reference. There’s roughly 40 creatures included in Midgard Sagas!
Appendix 2 gives even more toys to play with. New magic items are always fun, and we get seven here. The mi-go neural agonizer is perfect for those creepy aliens to employ! After the magic items, there’s spells! Specifically, several spells from Deep Magic: Void Magic are reprinted here. Such a great book and these new spells add a fantastic new dimension to the magic in your world.
Credit where credit is due
Certainly, a big part of what makes Midgard Sagas so great is due to the writers whose work resulted in these terrific 5E adventures. But a lot of the credit is due to Ben McFarland. Ben was the playtest coordinator, convention guru, and adventure developer. Kobold Press published Wolfgang Baur explained that Ben is one of the folks who pushes their quality to be all it can be, and unfortunately his name was left off the credits for this work in the first printing of Midgard Sagas.
You can learn more about Ben and his work in this interview from the Kobold Press website, and when you run any of the adventures in Midgard Sagas, give thanks to him for bringing two years of honing, testing and rewriting to fruition in this great collection of 5E adventures.
Pick up your own copy of Midgard Sagas through the Kobold Press store, available in hardcover and PDF formats, and let me know what you think down in the comments. Did you run any of these 5E adventures or plan to? Which one is your favorite?